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Iraq: Caught between militias and ‘Islamic State’

Judit Neurink writes for Deutsche Welle:

"Yes, there have been murder incidents," admits Hussein Zainal, a member of Bashiqa's local council, when asked about the behavior of the 30th Brigade of the Iraqi Shiite militias in this mixed town on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq. "They are not a trained army. The boys have no ethics or knowledge of human rights."

The 30th brigade is part of the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which consists of some 150,000 volunteers divided between some 40 Shiite militias. The PMU was formed to fight the Islamic terror group "Islamic State" (IS) after a fatwa issued by the religious leader of the Iraqi Shiites, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani.

Eighteen months after IS was defeated in Iraq, the militias still guard checkpoints in cities that were liberated from the group, but reports about their misbehavior are everywhere. Militias in Nineveh have been accused of violence and murder, abuse of power, illegal enrichment, and corruption. There is even talk of a mass grave containing the bodies of 80 people killed by militia members. Recently, the 30th Brigade blocked the motor way to Mosul and clashed with the Iraqi army to prevent it from taking over its checkpoints.

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